Joint Comments on Beneficial Uses and Mercury Objectives

  • Feb 17, 2017
  • Comment Letters

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board

Subject: Comment Letter – Beneficial Uses and Mercury Objectives

Other Signatories: California Water Association, California Municipal Utilities Association

Letter excerpt:

Consistent with our missions, ACWA, CWA, and CMUA wish to emphasize that our primary concerns arise with respect to the Mercury Provisions that will apply (1) immediately upon adoption of the proposed mercury program by the State Water Board without further hearings or additional due process or public comment opportunities, and (2) that are not associated with the protection of cultural or socioeconomic driven elevated rates of fish consumption. Specifically, these comments focus primarily on the promulgation and immediate application of the “Non-Tribal/Non-Subsistence Related Provisions” of the mercury program, namely:

  • A new Sport Fish mercury objective of 0.2 mg/kg for purposes of protecting human health for those consuming a typical level of fish, which is more stringent than the federal law objective, promulgated to protect COMM, WILD, RARE, WARM, COLD, MAR, EST, and SAL;
  • Two new very stringent wildlife water quality objectives (WQO), Prey Fish (0.05 mg/kg) and California least tern (CLT) Prey Fish (0.03 mg/kg), promulgated to protect WILD, RARE, WARM, COLD, MAR, EST, and SAL, rather than beneficial uses directly related to fishable/swimmable goals derived from federal Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251; and
  • Three new, exceptionally low effluent limitations (EL) for mercury (ranging from 1 ng/L to 12 ng/L) to be applied upon adoption in all non-stormwater individual NPDES permits, including NPDES permits for effluent discharged from groundwater and surface water supply treatment, wastewater treatment, and water purification/recycled water production, as well as other individual permits such as drinking water system discharges, potable water line dewatering, testing, and industrial discharge NPDES permits.

We have raised concerns regarding the effects that the proposed Tribal beneficial uses (T-SUB and CUL) and Subsistence fishing beneficial use (SUB) could have on minimum instream flow surface water objectives, and flow-related 401 Water Quality Certification and NPDES permit requirements. However, the Water Board Staff Workshop presentations questions, and testimony at the February 7 Hearing gave us the strong impression that flow and water supply consequences are not intended either by the State Water Board nor by the people that the new beneficial use definitions are being developed to protect. Therefore, we believe that our issues regarding the text of the proposed beneficial uses are relatively limited, and effective text revisions to address those issues should not be difficult to develop to allow their adoption.

Download joint comment letter

Suggested Resources

Joint Request Related to Mercury Amendments

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on April 20, 2017

Joint Comments on Beneficial Uses and Mercury Objectives

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on Jan. 20, 2017

Coaltion Comments on Draft ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy

Submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Oct. 17, 2016